Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.  Hebrews 13:17

 

Submission to Church leadership and authority is biblical. It is the will of God. Of course, this is not as cut and dry as one might think. What must leadership do and how should they treat others? And how does one submit to leadership?

With so many people participating in “Leadership Worship” and being dominated by the same, leadership and submission must be clearly and biblically defined.

 

Leadership Defined

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  Acts 20:28

Paul was speaking to the elders in Ephesus. He told them, in this context, to pay attention to themselves and the people the Holy Ghost called them to watch over (oversee). They were given instruction what to do. They were to feed them!

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  1 Peter 5:2

Here, Peter spoke to the church elders. He also said to feed the people and watch over them. Now, what stands out other than feeding God’s people?

The people belong to who? They belong to God! They are His flock, His Church, His children. They do not belong to the elders! I know, that is implied, but think about it. How often have you heard a senior leader refer to the people as ‘theirs’? “These are MY people”, or “These are MY children, MY sons and daughters”, or  “This is MY Church”. Well, God says otherwise!

Too often people are abused, dominated, ordered and bossed around like servants, humiliated, manipulated, and spoken to like children by leaders who misunderstand and take advantage of their position. The Word says ‘feed’, not be the mommas and daddies! God is our Father and the Church as a whole is ‘like’ a mother who nurtures.

And let’s quickly address this. God does not want anyone to feel like He’s forcing them to lead His people (not by constraint). He wants those willing and have a mind to do it. He doesn’t need people looking to get paid. Would you do it if no money was involved? If not, I will be so bold to state that God didn’t call you! If so, why don’t you?

Luke’s account is interesting to this point…

And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.  Luke 22:35

So then, where is YOUR faith? Why can’t you lead without pay and let the money go where it should? To the saints in need? Sorry, I digressed a bit. That’s a different article entirely.

Leadership in the Kingdom of God is not about building larger buildings, having lots of programs, majoring in music and light shows, knowing and/or being the who’s who and puffing each other up. It’s simply about feeding God’s people with the truth and watching for Satan’s devices and those who would deceive them!

It’s about loving God’s heritage, knowing they are His and He will not let anyone get away with mistreating them! It’s about being examples of purity,  godliness, and integrity. It’s not about being right all the time or being perfect all at once. It’s growing, caring, and submitting to one another in love.

And oh yes, this verse…

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3

Church leadership is not about controlling people’s lives or limiting them in any way. It’s not about placing people under a totalitarian rule or dictatorship. It about loving them, teaching and guiding in the ways of holy and righteous living in Christ.

 

Submission Defined

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.  Hebrews 13:17

I opened with this verse. It is used often by those who might wish to convince you that, “You must obey and submit to leadership. You must yield your members to the vision of the house. Your calling and lot in life is to help bring it to pass…”

Where is that written? Submission is not about the leadership. It’s about the Word of God! Remember how leaders are called to feed the flock? What is to be done with all that feeding? It is to be taken, eaten, and lived by everyone! Submission, unlike in the context of marriage, is not to a person. It is to the Word as spoken by the person!

So, you obey the Word of God spoken to you by those called to watch over (rule) you. The word rule here means to lead, not boss, control, or lord over (remember 1 Peter 5:3?). And to whom did God  give a vision to outside of His Word anyway? The only vision given to the Church by God was given by the Son of God. And this is the vision…

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.Mark 16:15

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:…  Matthew 28:19-20

See? Preach, teach, baptize, teach to observe. So many preachers wear themselves out trying to do what only God can do. No one is called to force anyone to listen and obey the gospel and live righteously. It’s the mission of the Holy Ghost to convince and convict.

They are to preach and teach from the Book (the Word of God), not from philosophies of the mind, not a bunch of “You don’t have this or can’t do the other because…”, not psychological priming and pumping up, or personal intellect. Then let the Holy Spirit work on the hearts and minds of the hearers.

All are to submit to one another. Leaders and followers alike are to submit to one another. The hearers submit to the teaching and the teachers submit to the listeners by teaching them needful truth that instructs and warns about the wiles (cunning manipulations or persuasions) of Satan. The hearers obey the words of truth and the leaders can be happy and at ease when the hearers live according to the Word.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  1 Peter 5:5

 

God’s Will vs Man’s Pride

Man’s nature is to dominate. We were given dominion by our Creator. But the limits of that dominion is over the Earth, not each other. God’s will is for us to love one another and be subject to each other. Man often shows false humility in that they control others and call it love by saying, “I know what’s best for you” or “It’s for your own good!” Uh, actually knowing God’s Word is what’s best and being a doer of it is for the good.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  James 1:22

And many do not realize they walk in pride because of all the accolades they receive of men. So they continue speaking and acting pridefully thinking it’s acceptable. Note a qualification of a Bishop…

Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  1 Timothy 3:6

A leader must be seasoned by time and experience. Many want or are forced into positions they were never called to or are ready for. So they get puffed up and lack humbleness (have you noticed humbleness seems to be frowned on or seen as weakness these days?).

 

Our Authority and Leader

And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.  John 5:27

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:13-18

 

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and powerColossians 2:9-10

Never forget. God the Father is our Ultimate Leader and Authority! Authority over all things was given to His Son and he gave authority to the Apostles. Authority to do what? The authority to establish the New Testament Church! The healings and miracles were simply to facilitate that goal. We have it now and the Word necessary to keep it going until Christ returns. The Word of God is our authority and those who lead do so by the sound and correct teaching of it.

So let us shed pride and control. Lead with love and compassion. Follow through obedience to God’s Word. Those leaders who lead by love, godly example, and according to truth are the ones worthy of honor. And by such the Church World can leap forward and cover the planet with the Word and love of God.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine 1 Timothy 5:17

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